During the month of January, the Sharks Foundation is supporting and honoring local service members, veterans and their families through its first-ever Military Appreciation Month.
The Foundation kicked-off the campaign by visiting 93-year-old World War II veteran, Private First Class Isaiah Breaux, at his home in San Jose. Breaux and his wife have lived at the residence since 1950 and their roots run deep in the area.
After retiring from a 10-year military career, which included a stint in the Pacific from 1943-1946, Breaux served as a can maker with the S.J. Canneries before joining General Electric's former plant on Curtner Road in San Jose as a welder and supervisor. He and his wife also raised eight children in their small home and now have 17 grandchildren.
With such a storied history, the Sharks Foundation wanted to help revitalize Breaux's home by donating $15,000 for its upkeep. The Foundation was first introduced to the Purple Heart recipient through, Rebuilding Together, which helps bring low-income families revitalize their homes and upgrade them according to current safety and health standards.
Rebuilding Together and more than 20 volunteers from the Sharks Foundation and Sharks Sports & Entertainment, gave the house a fresh coat of paint, installed a new water heater, built a bench and planter box and mended a fence, in addition to a number of other much-needed upgrades.
After the rebuild was complete, the San Jose native was invited to the San Jose Sharks game the very next evening to celebrate the team's official Military Appreciation Night.
Breaux was invited to drop the ceremonial first puck and was welcomed onto the ice by more than 17,000 fans chanting "U-S-A" before he was surprised by members of the 129th Para-Rescue Wing, California Air National Guard, who repelled from the rafters to present him with the puck to drop. He was then able to enjoy the Sharks game from seats donated by Sharks defenseman Paul Martin.
The Sharks Foundation also partnered with United Heroes League to have 12-year-old Tyler and 19-year-old Peyton Cobra attend the game and sit in a suite provided by Sharks blueliner Brent Burns. The Cobra's mother, Tech Sergeant, 129th Rescue Wing, 131st Rescue Squadron, California Air National Guard, Angela Cobra, is currently serving in Afghanistan. The boys were surprised during the first period with a special scoreboard message from their mom from overseas.
The Breaux family and the Cobras were both invited post-game, along with the repel team and other military families from United Heroes League to meet, have autographs signed and take pictures with Sharks players.
Military Appreciation Night featured Mystery Pucks, which were sold for $20 each with partial proceeds benefitting Operation: Care and Comfort, while Military Jerseys raised $16,445.21 with partial proceeds benefitting United Heroes League.
In addition, sales from the Sharks Foundation's 50/50 Raffle throughout the month of January will benefit local military non-profit organizations. Currently, $15,352.50 was donated to Operation: Care and Comfort on January 7 and $12,955 was donated to the United Heroes League on January 14.
Operation Freedom Paws, who matches service dogs with individuals who have Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) or other physical, neurological, psychological or mobility needs, will be the 50/50 Raffle beneficiary on Saturday, January 21.
Over the course of the month the Sharks Foundation will impact more than 600 individuals with an estimated $33,500 being donated to support military members and their families in the Bay Area.